Monday, February 05, 2007

A Second Chance for First Baptist Church of Clarendon Project?


Contrary to what F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, sometimes there are second acts in America. Last October, dcmud reported that - after two years of much back-and-forth waiting - it appeared the First Baptist Church of Clarendon’s "The Views at Clarendon" project was off the drawing board, as the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Arlington County violated its own zoning regulations when it approved the church’s plans in 2004 to build a mixed-use church and residential development at its current location at 1201 N. Highland Street. However, just last week the Arlington County Board of Supervisors surprised everyone and decided to once again take up this project, citing the need for more affordable housing in Arlington. The church has resubmitted its plans, and the Board, with the court's required zoning changes in place, will hold a vote on the project on February 24. "The Views at Clarendon" project will keep the church's 107-foot steeple, while rebuilding the church (a smaller version) within a 10-story, 116 rental-unit structure (with 70 units reserved for moderately priced housing) that would help defray the church’s operating expenses.

The long tale of this project will make a nice novel one day. When the church originally received zoning-change approval from Arlington for this development, neighbors immediately objected to the tall tower, and filed a lawsuit in November 2004 to reverse the decision. While the County Circuit Court judge ruled in 2005 against the neighbors, in September 2006 the Virginia Supreme Court reversed the Circuit Court and sided with the neighbors, stating that the County violated its own Zoning Ordinance 27A by not complying with its eligibility requirements. Stay tuned for the next chapter in this saga....

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